Stenson, Johnson Lead U.S. Open; Woods Is 15 Back as Play BeginsErik Matuszewski
Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson share the lead at 5 under par after the first round of the U.S. Open, where Tiger Woods struggled to his worst score -- an 80 -- in 19 career appearances at golf’s second major championship.
Twenty-five of the 156 players in the field shot under par on Thursday as Chambers Bay Golf Course outside Seattle made its U.S. Open debut. Among those within four strokes of the lead as Friday’s second-round play began are Jordan Spieth (-2), who won the Masters Tournament in April, and 45-year-old Phil Mickelson (-1), who needs a victory for the career Grand Slam of all four major titles.
Stenson birdied four of his final five holes, including a 27-foot putt at the 18th hole to cap a 65. Stenson’s best score ever in a major pulled him even with Johnson, who made his lone bogey of the day on his final hole.
“We’re right there with where we want to be,” said Stenson, who’s sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, one spot ahead of Johnson. “It’s still a long journey until Sunday afternoon, of course. A good start always helps.”
Woods, a 14-time major champion, had his worst start at a U.S. Open and the fourth-worst 18-hole score of his career. He was wild off the tee -- missing eight of 14 fairways -- accidentally flung a club behind him while hacking out of the rough on the eighth hole, and completely topped a 3-wood into a fairway bunker on his final hole.
“It was a tough day,” said Woods, who had eight bogeys, a triple bogey and just one birdie during a round that finished at about 11 p.m. New York time. “It’s one of those things, I’ve just got to work through it. I’m trying as hard as I can to do it, and for some reason I just can’t get the consistency that I’d like to have out there.”
Only two players in the field scored worse than Woods: playing partner Rickie Fowler (81) and club professional Rich Berberian Jr. (83). For Woods, who has sunk to 195th in the world, it was his third round in the 80s this year.
Woods tees off at about 11:30 a.m. New York time on Friday, with the leaders scheduled to go off at 5:17 p.m.
Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1 and 2011 U.S. Open winner, opened with a 2-over 72 after missing several putts in the seven-to-10 foot range.
“I need to find a rhythm in my stroke over the next three days,” McIlroy said.
Patrick Reed is one shot off the lead after an opening-round 66. Matt Kuchar, Ben Martin and amateur Brian Campbell opened with scores of 67, one better than Spieth and Jason Day. Others at 2 under include Cody Gribble, Francesco Molinari, Jason Dufner, Marc Warren and Joost Luiten.
Spieth said while he wasn’t pleased with his ball-striking, he felt he putted well despite some inconsistent speeds on the greens and was pleased with a 68.
“I think if I did it three more times, I’d be in really good position come Sunday,” Spieth said. “No complaints.”
Mickelson, a record six-time U.S. Open runner-up, also said he was pleased with shooting below par even though he had back-to-back bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes. Mickelson held the overall lead at 3 under early in his round.
“You want to get off to a solid start around par,” said Mickelson, who said Chambers Bay played terrific in its debut.
A links-style course on the Puget Sound, Chambers Bay is the first site in the Pacific Northwest to host the U.S. Open. The eight-year-old public course, which features all fescue grass from tee to green, is built in a former sand and gravel quarry with more than 222 feet of elevation change.
“There was nothing hokey or crazy with any pin positions or how it played,” Mickelson said. “It was difficult. The biggest challenge is that the green speeds are different from green to green.”
Woods, a three-time U.S. Open winner, struggled on the greens -- taking 36 putts -- and off the tee. He didn’t log his lone birdie until the 16th hole. Woods’s group, one of the featured pairings for prime-time TV coverage on the East Coast, finished a combined 28 over. Louis Oosthuizen’s 77 was the best of the bunch.
“I think we were all just happy to be upright, alive and to be done for the day,” Fowler said Thursday night. “It’s a new day tomorrow.”